Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Mind the Gap!"

It has been nearly thirteen years since my husband and I traveled to England to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We had a blast back-packing around from city to city and riding on Britain’s fabulous system of railways. One of the things we found so memorable was the recording that played over the public address systems in all the subways and train stations: “Mind the Gap!” These three words played repeatedly whenever a train’s door opened and continued until it was shut again—warning passengers, in a distinctly British female voice, that the gap between the platform and the train car posed a danger. The same three words graced the walls of both the trains and the stations in the boldest of red, white, and blue. So you could imagine how I jumped at the opportunity to purchase and take home a key ring with this symbol as a token of our trip.

It has been years since that vacation. I still have the key ring, but my husband has now passed away and that phrase has a new meaning for me. In the hours immediately following my husband’s death, I sat stunned and unbelieving what had just happened. I was crying out to the Lord, feeling so lost and not having a clue what tomorrow would bring. Then I looked down at my lap and noticed the keys I still clutched in my hand. “Mind the Gap!” The phrase was almost audible—but not in the familiar British female voice that had echoed in my mind since our trip. On this day, it seemed like the Lord Himself was speaking to me and saying, “Mind the Gap!”

The shock of being so suddenly widowed awoke me from a deep, comfortable sleep. Over the next couple years, I gained a more biblical perspective on my life and re-ordered my priorities. It was like how the Prodigal Son is described in Luke 15:17; he “came to his senses” when he decided to return home. That’s the sort of thing that had happened to me; I had finally “came to my senses” and realized God expected me to use this time He’s given me to be a good steward for Him and I needed to quit wasting my days dwelling on the past. I needed to press forward and “Mind the Gap!” Eventually, the Lord gently let me see that being widowed wasn’t meant to be a divine punishment from Him. Instead, He had given me the opportunity to see beyond my pain, replacing it with a new desire to serve Him.

Recently, Ephesians 5:15-16 has become very special to me. “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” I like this passage because it reminds me of a dear family friend who just never got tired of doing the Lord’s work. As a young man, he served as an overseas missionary, but he retired from that to become a church pastor, then he retired from that to establish a non-profit camp for people with special needs. He was a living example of what Paul meant by “run to win” and “finish well”. And he had faithfully demonstrated to me what it is to “Mind the Gap!”

But just last week, the Lord helped me to put a new spin on Ephesians 5:15-16. I have an NASB reference Bible that is over-flowing with margin notes. For verse 16, “making the most of your time”, it gives an alternate reading: “redeeming the time”. In case you’ve missed this, let me point out that these Bible translators and editors just equated “redemption” with “making the most of something”! I’m overwhelmed at the thought of how wasteful my life was when I was unredeemed and therefore, serving Satan. But, Praise God, because I am now “in Christ”, He helps me make the most of my time!

I’ve also realized that everyone has a personal gap of their own that needs to be tended. Every believer has a past that can’t be changed and a future they hope for and long for. But beginning today, and until that heavenly future comes, we all have a gap. For some it will prove to be a long road; for others of us, the end may be just around that next bend. But the Lord expects us all to “Mind the Gap!” Take heed to do today what you can to help usher in His Kingdom and His Righteousness.

Turning now to Luke 2:36-38, we read about Anna, a prophetess. Here was a widow of many years who undoubtedly had known heartaches and sorrows. Yet Luke tells us, she served the Lord faithfully, every day in the temple with prayers and fastings—and she proclaimed Jesus to be the long-awaited Messiah. Anna knew her priorities, she was minding her gap, and doing it very well! Likewise, we need to snap up every opportunity to serve Christ and tell others about Him.

But let’s get practical here for a moment—what does one do to “Mind the Gap!”? Well, for instance, I try to balance time spent in the Bible, prayer, witnessing, and fellowship and daily try to do each one. I know that when I do that, my life will become more spiritually balanced and focused on eternity. This, to me, is what it means to “Mind the Gap!”

Redeem your days by making the most of the time God has allotted to you. Rescue each and every day from Satan’s jaws. “Mind the Gap!”

Galatians 5:13For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Here are some Journaling Suggestions for you to try:

Tell about someone whose example of “time stewardship” has inspired you.

Recall a day when you were particularly successful at redeeming your time for the Lord.

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